Friday, January 23, 2009

Historic Restoration: A delicate balancing act.

I haven't posted the last couple of days as I have been writing a restoration plan for a client. Between client meetings, tons of research and design time, I've been busy. At the same time one of the boards I regularly contribute to have had a plethora of posts.
Couple that, with me working on restoring Doorknobs a Newel Post and other assorted things for the Knox Hill Project, and, well, you get the idea.
One of the things I have been doing is "looking" for a building to house our antiques business, our design showroom and a historic litho Art Gallery in Cincinnati. I've narrowed potential areas down to OTR and West End. The vast bulk of our business is by appointment but in many ways we will be 'destination/tourist' kind of business as well and we want to have some regular hours and we want to be close to historic districts where many of our clients come from. So I have been going through the MLS, Craiglsits, and the web, trying to find "the right building" for our various enterprises. We had found one building earlier last year, only to get " outbid' by an "investor type" who has no intention of doing anything with it other than sit on it until he can find someone with deep pockets to buy it.
Therein the rub, we would love to be in the Findlay Market Area, It is one of our favorite places in the city. Most of the buildings are 'cost prohibited' in the area around it, as the owners want far more than the buildings are worth and basically figure if they go downhill enough some "preferred developer" or 3CDC will come in and pay their ridiculous asking price. 3CDC has been a godsend and a curse to OTR. They have done some great projects, yet have far too many buildings sitting. Because they own so much, it has "inflated' the real estate market to a point that many buildings we could restore have such a high cost per square foot for acquisition that it is cost prohibited.

So Saturday, we drive down to "look around' some more for some tattered, faded 'for sale' signs and hope that 1.) we can find something 'with potential, and 2.) Someone with a realistic view that a 2-3 story building that needs total restore is not worth 2-300K.

I got to see the first installment of the "This Old House" restoration project last night. A Brownstone in in Brooklyn, New York. It promises to be an interesting series as the owners are adamant about preserving as many historic details as possible. You can also follow the project on their website:

We also plan on Driving around some of the neighborhoods and taking pictures. Our usual Cincinnati trip plan is get up at 5 AM leave at 7AM , drive down, work like crazy until 3-4 PM then drive back to Indy, eat dinner and collapse. Tomorrow is strictly an exploration day, driving neighborhoods. Walking some as well, ( yes I know its winter, but that doesn't stop Old House fanatics like us), and maybe some antiquing. I am still looking for some staircase parts.
Oh and if anyone out there has afalling apart commercial building near Findlay and doesn't want a million for it , please let me know.

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